Advaitam and Science

OM, Purnamata purnamitam purnat purnamutachyate, purnasya purnamataye purnamevavasishyate – Bri.Up V.i.1

EVOLUTION AND DISSOLUTION – A Philosophical and Scientific comparison

                                                                       EVOLUTION AND DISSOLUTION –

                                                                                                 A PHILOSOPHICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COMPARISON

Evolution and dissolution is a topic of interest for both philosophers and scientist.  The manner in which the philosophers explain evolution is completely different from the manner in which the scientists explain it.  Scientists believe that the basics of creation are atoms, energies and their related matters.  They explain the evolution based on this.  Philosophers believe that the creation is the manifestation of the Supreme Consciousness, and they say that the evolution is based on karma, time, the five great elements (space, air, brightness, water, and matter), its nature, and subtle qualities.  They both differ entirely in the way they explain the evolution.  However, both their explanations have to be accepted, because they are reasonable.  Philosophy explains about one aspect of the Supreme Being and science explains about another aspect of the Supreme Being.  When both their views are accepted, an entire view of evolution and dissolution can be realized.  Science is based on the experiments and observations done outside.  Philosophy is based on the realization in deep meditation, inner reasoning, and analysis.  The philosophical facts are very deep and difficult to accept, whereas, scientific facts are easy to understand and accept.  The facts about evolution are found by philosophers approximately 5000 years back, whereas, the scientific facts are still emerging out.  This does not affect the credibility of the discovery of scientific facts or philosophical revelation, because whatever be the period of discovery, the truth has to be realized, and this is the mission in life.

In philosophy, the Samkhya system of Indian philosophy explains the evolution and dissolution clearly.  In science, three theories namely The Steady state theory, The Pulsating theory, The Big Bang theory explain about evolution.  Among the three theories, the Big Bang theory attained universal acceptance and popularity.  So in this article, the analysis is done based on the Samkhya system of Indian philosophy and the Big Bang theory, to know about the overall view of evolution.

Bhagavan Kapila is the profounder of the Samkhya system.  Samkhya system is explained in the Kapilopadesha  of Srimad Bhagavata.  This system explains the reality and nature of the two manifestations namely the purusha and the prakriti.  Purusha is the subject and prakriti is the object.

Purusha is the individual center of the pure consciousness.  Even though, purusha is individual it is all pervading and one center does not relate to the other, and hence each center is all pervading and individual.  Each center has the complete nature of the pure consciousness.  Purusha does not have attributes and parts.  Purusha is an assumption of the Supreme Consciousness, due to its inherent deluding power Maya.

Prakriti is the manifesting power of the purusha.  The inherent deluding power of the Supreme Consciousness, Maya, brings out prakriti.  Prakriti is constituted of the three gunas viz, sattva, rajas, and, tamas.  Evolution and dissolution is explained by the evolutes of prakriti and its combinations.  The evolutes are inherent in prakriti.  Prakriti is also called Pradhana (the first category), Avyakta (indiscrete).  Prakriti is insentient, part less, omnipresent, single, and objective.

The Three Gunas of prakriti

Prakriti has three constituents.  They are the three gunas sattva, rajas, and tamas.  They are the functional forces of prakriti and they are not entirely separate.  Each one is convertible into another and each including in it the elements of the other.  That is, sattva merges with rajas, rajas merges with tamas, and tamas mergers with sattva.  Sattva makes the prakriti exist, rajas makes the prakriti more active, and tamas restrains the process of change and preserve the identity.  Prakriti works through the gunas.  When the gunas are at equilibrium, then the prakriti does not evolve.  During evolution, Time, the inherent power of prakriti, disturbs the equilibrium of the three gunas and the three gunas become active.  The different combination of three gunas makes the entire creation.  Three gunas are present in all the created bodies and matter, but in different proportions.  Some forms are dominated by sattva, some are dominated by rajas, and some are dominated by tamas.  In scientific terms, the gunas can be explained as the different rate of vibrations.  Sattva is the high frequency vibration, rajas is the medium frequency vibration and tamas is the low frequency vibration.  The five basic gross elements (space, air, brightness, water, matter) are the evolutes of the tamasic aspect of the prakriti.  According to philosophy, prakriti becomes outwardly active because of the gunas.

Combination of purusha and prakriti

The individual centers of consciousness (purusha) gets involved with prakriti through proximity, and the mutual transfer of attributes and functions take place consequently.  When prakriti is manifested from purusha, Time, initiates the movement in prakriti.  Prakriti starts evolving from the indiscrete to the discrete condition.  The reflection of the prakriti on the individual purusha is called the Jiva.  Prakriti is insentient and purusha is sentient.  The proximity of the purusha makes prakriti sentient.  The nature of prakriti is reflected on purusha, by this the purusha assumes that it has attributes and gunas.  The nature of purusha is reflected on bhuddhi, which is an evolute of prakriti.  The subtle body consists of bhuddhi, which has the reflection of the purusha.  The reflection of the purusha on prakriti makes the body and mind active and intelligent.  The intelligence in a person is the purusha in him.  The gunas (nature) of a person uses the intelligence to become active.  The prakriti and its 24 evolutes form the different forms of the universe, by its different combinations.  The purusha assumes that the forms and gunas are its own and this assumption subjects him to birth and death.

Prakriti and its Evolutes

The manifested is composed of prakriti and its 24 evolutes.  Manifestation is not producing something new.  Effect is always present in the cause, in an indiscrete state and the evolution is only the manifestation of the already existing entity.  Each evolutes is under the influence of Kala (Time), Karma (past impressions), Svabhava (nature).  The first evolutes of the prakriti is the Mahattatva.  Mahattatva has the whole creation in the seminal condition.  It is also known as Hiranyagarbha.  From mahattatva evolves the ahamkara (sense of individuality, I – sense).  Ahamkara gives the feeling that the individual consciousness is different from the supreme consciousness.  Ahamkara expresses itself in three ways.

1. Sattva aspect of ahamkara – leads to determination.

2. Rajas aspect of ahamkara – leads to high activity.

3. Tamas aspect of ahamkara – leads to inertia and dullness.

A person experiences peace from sattva aspect, high activity from rajas aspect, and dullness and inertia from tamas aspect.  Even nature has these three gunas.

1. Mind evolves from the sattvika aspect of ahamkara.  Mind has two powers, imagination and obsession.

2. From the rajasika aspect of ahamkara evolves,

  • Bhuddhi, which manifests as intelligence in a person.  Bhuddhi helps the thoughts to have different modes and helps the senses to function effectively.
  • Prana, which generates the power of action.
  • The five organs of knowledge (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin).
  • The five organs of action (hands, legs, organ of speech, excretory organ, generative organ).

Bhuddhi functions through the organs of knowledge.  The organs of action are the products of prana.  In a person, all these organs are developed from the rajasika aspect of the ahamkara.

3. From the tamasika aspect of ahamkara, the subtle senses called the Tanmatras evolve and then their corresponding gross elements evolve.

Evolutes of the Tamasika aspect of Ahamkara

The subtle senses and their corresponding gross elements are evolved from the tamasika aspect of ahamkara.

1. Tamasika aspect of ahamkara comes into being, and from it emerges the matrix (Tanmatra) of Sound, and from this in turn comes the element Ether (space).  The ear evolved from the rajasa aspect of ahamkara, captures the sensation of sound (Srimad Bhagavata 3,26,32).

2. Prompted by the evolutionary urge of Time, the element Ether, which in its subtle tanmatra condition is identical with sound, produces the tanmatra of Touch, from which has emerged the element Air.  The skin is the organ that perceives touch ( Srimad Bhadavata 3, 26, 35).

3. Through the functioning of providence, the element Air, which in its subtle tanmatra condition   is identical with touch, produces the tanmatra of Rupa (form or perception), out of which is born the element Tejas (brilliance, fire).  The eye perceives form and color, which are variations of tejas (Srimad Bhagavata 3,26,38).

4. From the element Tejas, which is identical in its subtle tanmatra condition with rupa,  generates the tanmatra of taste, out of which has sprung the gross element Water.  The organ tongue apprehends taste (Srimad Bhagavata 3,26,41).

5. By the prompting of the divine evolutionary force, the element water, which in its subtle condition is identical with the tanmatra of taste, evolve the tanmatra of Smell.  Out of the tanmatra of smell emerged the element Earth (matter) (Srimad Bhagavata 3, 26, 44).

The qualities and nature of one tanmatra and element adds up to the immediate next.  The akasa (space) has only sound as characteristics.  Air has the characteristics of space and air.  Brightness (fire) has the characteristics of space, air and brightness.  Water has the characteristics of space, air, brightness, and water.  Matter (earth) has the qualities of all the other elements.  These categories come into combination of two types, the macrocosmic, and the microcosmic.

The evolution of the gross elements is explained in scientific sense as, first the space evolved, then the air evolved, then brightness evolved, then water (ice) evolved, and finally hard matter evolved.

Universe was in an unmanifested (seed state) in the supreme consciousness (Brahman).  When Brahman felt that the karmas in the seed form are matured enough to manifest, the evolution happened.

Many subtle steps of evolution were involved, before the outward manifestation of Brahman, in the form of five basic gross elements.  The five basic elements, the tanmatras ( subtle senses), and gunas combine to form nature and various beings.

Science is not clear about what happened before Big Bang, because there was no time to record the happenings.  Big Bang happened at time, T=0, which is estimated as nearly 13.7 billion years back.  Science further explains that, the universe existed as an infinitesimal point, before Big Bang.  Time is a measurement to indicate change.  After Big Bang, the universe began to expand and evolve.  Science is not clear about the reason for the cause of Big Bang; however, it acknowledges the fact that the high temperature and density might have caused Big Bang.  Big Bang might be an earlier step in the process of evolution and not the first step, because there must be some reaction going on in that infinitesimal point, due to which it might have exploded and expanded.  In philosophy, many steps were involved before the prakriti manifested outside as the five gross elements.  However, philosophy does not explain about atoms and its energies because philosophy concentrates on the source of creation, Brahman.  Philosophy explains creation in one dimension and science explains creation in another dimension.

Creation according to Science

Scientist believes that, before Big Bang the universe was just an infinitesimal point, but it expanded incredibly.  It was incredibly dense and hot before inflation, but it got cooler and less dense as it expanded.  Light chemical elements were created within the first three minutes of the formation of the universe.  When the temperature was dropped to 100 million times, the forces of nature assumed their present properties.  The four forces are the gravity, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force.  The weak forces make radioactive decays and the strong forces hold nuclei together.  The elementary particles known as quarks roamed freely in a sea of energy.  When the universe expanded and cooled further, the free quarks became confined in neutrons and protons.  When expanded and cooled further, the protons and neutrons collided to make deuterium, which is an isotope of hydrogen.  Much of this deuterium combined to make helium.  The helium that is present today is formed within the first three minutes of inflation.  Conditions are still hot for the atomic nuclei to capture electrons.  During the first 3,80,000 years after Big Bang, the intense heat from the creation of the universe made it essentially too hot for light to shine.  Atoms crashed together with enough force to break up into dense opaque plasma of protons, neutrons, and electrons that scattered light like fog.  About 3,80,000 years after Big Bang, matter cooled enough for electrons to combine with nuclei to form neutral atoms.  This phase is known as recombination.  The absorption of free electrons caused the universe to become transparent.  The light that was unleashed at this time is detectable today in the form of radiation from the cosmic microwave background.  Analyzing this, the scientist get a clue of the early universe.  The neutral atoms then began to coalesce into gas clouds, which later evolve into stars.  The era of recombination was followed by a period of darkness before stars and other bright objects were formed.  Roughly, 400 million years after the Big Bang, the universe began to come out of its dark ages.  This period in the universe’s evolution is called the age of re-ionization.  During this period, clumps of gas collapsed enough to form the very first stars and galaxies.  The ultraviolet light emitted from these energetic events cleared out and destroyed most of the surrounding neutral hydrogen gas.  The process of re-ionization and the clearing of foggy hydrogen gas caused the universe to become transparent to ultraviolet light for the first time.

Many scientists think that sun and the rest of our solar system are formed from a giant rotating cloud of gas and dust known as the solar nebula.  As gravity caused the nebula to collapse, it spun faster and flattened into a disk.  During this phase, most of the materials were pulled towards the center, to form the sun.

When the universe was half its present size, nuclear reactions in stars produced most of the heavy elements from which terrestrial planets were formed.  Overtime, the formation of stars has consumed the supply of gas in galaxies.  Scientists estimate that the universe is made of

Dark energy 72%,

Dark matter 23%,

Atoms 4.6%,

Radiation 0.01%

This 4.6% of atoms makes the stars, planets, nature, and human beings.  Science is not clear about the dark matter and dark energy.  According to science the atoms combine together to form the material world.

According to philosophy, the primordial categories combined and formed the universe.  The combination is based on the past karmas and time.  The proximity of purusha and prakriri is the base of creation.  The Supreme Being abiding in prakriti manifests differently as innumerable centers of consciousness (Jivas).


In philosophy, dissolution is called Pralaya.  When the creative will of the Supreme Being subsides,  pralaya or the process of dissolution sets in.  It is the power of the Supreme Being, Time, which brings in pralaya.  All the beings dissolute in to their elemental condition.  The gross elements go back to their subtle elements.  The subtle elements will go back to their corresponding aspect of ahamkara.  Ahamkara goes back to the mahattatva.

During dissolution, there will be tremendous natural disasters by water, air, fire, and matter.  All the different types of bodies and forms will lose their lives and are either buried or disintegrated by some means.  The bodies will become matter (as earth), matter into its subtle aspect smell; smell into water; water into taste; taste into fire; fire into form; form into air; air into touch; touch into Ether(space); space into sound; sound into its source, the tamasa aspect of ahamkara; the three aspects of ahamkara goes back to mahattatva.  The three aspects of prakriti will be back to equilibrium and remain silent (no vibration mode).  Mahattatva dissolves into prakriti, which is in a state of equilibrium.  Prakriti dissolves in time, which is now without any movement.  Time dissolves in the creative spirit (Maya).  Maya remain in the supreme spirit without any attributes and limitation (Srimad Bhagavata, 11, 25, 22-27)

Science also supports this dissolution.  In 1920’s astronomer Edwin Hubble using a powerful telescope at the Mount Wilson observatory in Los Angles, observed that the universe is not static, but rather is expanding.  The expansion of the universe will accelerate and everything that is not gravitationally bound will speed away, leaving our observable universe (goes beyond our observation).  Everything that has gravitational pull will go through the life and death cycles until all the energy is used up.  After trillions of years, everything will contract and cool, and will be dead rocks.  Gravitational interactions will force these things to fly apart from one another.  The giant galaxies will decay.  The universe may expand forever, in which case all the galaxies and stars will eventually grow dark and cold.  If the mass of the universe is large enough, gravity will eventually reverse the expansion and all the matter and energy will be reunited.  The universe becomes smaller and the temperature increases, again matter will disintegrate to basic atoms and then quarks, there will be only a blaze of light, the universe will become smaller and smaller with high density and immense heat, and everything will take a reverse process.  Finally, the universe will shrink back to an incredibly dense and hot infinitesimal point; again a long wait….for the next cycle.

Mystics, theologians, philosophers, scientists view universe in many lights.  Science uses high technology instruments, satellites, observatories (both in earth and in space) and calculates the aftermath of the happenings of the Big Bang.  Science needs experiments and observations.  The findings of the scientific world are within a period of 300 years.  Human history is very minute when compared with the cosmic history.  The findings of philosophy are made by the Indian Rishis about 5000 years back, in deep meditation.  They did not take any external help.  Their findings were passed on to their students.  There was no scripting in that period.  Later on after many generations, their findings were recorded as puranas.  People who believe in philosophy must be grateful to the Rishis who discovered  and explained about the cosmos and human life; else we will be in dark about the evolution process until science discovered it.


1. Srimad Bhagavata, (Swami Tapasyananda, trans), (vol 1 & 4), Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai.

2. Evolution of the Universe, by p. James E. Peebles, David N. schramm, Edwin L. Turner and Richard G.Kron, retrieved from

3. How did the universe originate and evolve to produce the galaxies, stars, and planets we see today? , retrieved from

4. Big Bang Universe, explained in 10 steps, retrieved from


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